The proof of my new book, The Eagle and the Arrow, arrived on Monday, causing me so much agitation I couldn’t write for the rest of the day, so I took a bunch of photos that looked like this and posted them on Facebook and Twitter.
Here’s the thing, though; excited as I am when a galley (a proof, galley or galley proof is a preliminary version of a book) arrives on my doorstep, I’m also filled with dread. Why? Because when the galley proof arrives, that means I have to sit down and read the whole thing.
I know that probably sounds weird. But now, a month before the book itself is released is the absolute worst time for me to sit down and read it, because at this point in the process, I am always convinced that whatever it is I’m publishing – in this case, my book – is the most horrendous thing I’ve ever written.
I ride a roller coaster of self-consiousness when I’m writing and publishing. it goes a little something like this:
- When I first write something, minutes after my fingers have lifted from the keyboard, I’m convinced that I’m a genius.
- When I look at it again, I regain my sanity and revise.
- When I revise again, after my writers’ group has seen it, I’m once again convinced that I’m brilliant.
- Then I submit it somewhere, and am certain that it’s the worst thing I, or anyone else, has ever written.
- If it’s accepted, I believe I’m a genius again.
- If it’s rejected, I also believe I’m a genius, but that no one appreciates me and that somehow makes me more awesome and when I die an old hermit, someone will discover my manuscripts under hundreds of tins of cat food and realize I was a genius and then people will teach graduate courses about my work.
- When the publisher and I start work on rewrites, I regain my sanity for a while.
- But when the rewrites are done, the copy editors have done their thing, and it’s time for me to read the galley proof before it’s finalized and sent out to reviewers, I hit my biggest low since Step 4 and I believe that this book is the crappiest crap to ever have been written in English or any other language.
- I also go through a mini version of this whenever I stand up to read from my work to a group of people.
Why do I do this? I don’t know. At this point in the process, several sets of eyes have been over it and the book is certainly better than it was back when I thought I was a genius.
Maybe it’s because the reviewers will be the next people who read this and OH MY GOD THEY MIGHT HATE IT. Maybe it’s because after the reviewers read it, everyone else will be able to read it and OH MY GOD THEY MIGHT HATE IT.
Although the insanity doesn’t last long; last year, when my first book came out, a couple of weeks after the release, after I forced myself to look at my reviews on Amazon, and then I was fine. I’m hoping that’s what happens this time, too.
And so my first reaction, after the galley arrives is to be very excited about it and then to carry it around in my purse but not read it for a day or so. And then when I try to read it that thing happens where I read the same page three times but no words actually get from the page to my brain.
Luckily I have my husband, who reads the whole galley first, points out errors, and then, somehow it’s easier for me to read it.
The thing that makes me feel extra divaish about all this is that I’ve only published short stories and novellas. I can sit down and read my books in a few hours. I can’t imagine what it would be like to publish a full-length novel and have to sit down and read through the whole proof by the end of the week.
Someday, though, I intend to find out.